Power is one of the most critical pieces of the server stability puzzle. Without proper power, your server could be unavailable losing you valuable time, customers and money. Not only that, but power loss could corrupt a server which would then require further work, including hardware or software re-installation. Without power the servers, switches and other routing equipment at any data center are useless. When choosing where to co-locate your server, it is important that you be aware of what 2N Power Redundancy is, how it benefits you and most importantly, why you want it.
What is 2N Power Redundancy?
2N power redundancy and distribution means that the data center has two independent power sources. They are not connected in any way and are not dependent on each other. This means that even if one power source has an interruption or loss of power, the other should still supply power thereby eliminating any potential downtime from the loss of the first power source. With two individual, completely separate power sources, the chance of both being down or unable to supply enough power is astronomically low.
You might also see or hear the term “N+1”which is different than 2N and not as reliable. In an N+1 power setup there is really just the grid power connection and a backup power supply (UPS, generator, etc.) which will maintain the required power for a limited time frame. It is not completely redundant as it still has just one power grid connection and no additional equipment as the 2N power distribution model does. The major advantage of 2N power is that it is two completely separate inputs, circuits and systems, each with its own complete complement of equipment. In an N+1 configuration there is often one set of cabling that connects to the main power and backup, therefore, one catastrophic failure could wipe out all power options.
How 2N Power Redundancy Works
The power sources are generally labeled A and B. Each power source, in a true A/B power distribution model will not only have its own utility feed (from the power grid) but also at least one backup generator, an ATS (Automatic Transfer Switch) which will quickly switch between the power sources, an electrical switchboard, UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), a distribution switchboard and a PDU (Power Distribution Unit). Some of the components, like the ATS and switchboard may be rack-mounted right in the cabinet. Each configuration may be slightly different but should adhere fairly closely to the diagram.
When there is an interruption in the power supply from the A side, the ATS will recognize that and switch the main power supply to the B side. Because of the UPS there is no loss in power and no impact on server up-time. If the power goes out on the B side the ATS will check the A side to see if it can switch to that power supply. If it cannot, a backup generator will be started to begin supplying locally generated power to the server racks. If there is a generator failure on either A or B the system will switch over to the other to ensure that there is constant power supplied to the system.
The 2N Power Redundancy system is designed to ensure that there is zero server downtime because of power issues. With a properly maintained 2N system the chance of an external power outage affecting the servers at the location is nullified.
How 2N Power Redundancy Benefits Co-location Customers
Because of the inherent redundancy in the 2N Power Distribution system, servers which are co-located at the location should never have any downtime due to power loss. The 2N system will protect the switches, servers and routing equipment within a location to enable safe server operation at all times. It eliminates any chance that power will ever play a role in whether or not your servers and the information on them is accessible.
If you are co-locating a server and then reselling server space, etc it is a value add to your offerings since it means that a properly configured server should not experience any downtime for power reasons. It means more server stability because there should never be an unscheduled server shutdown or an improper shutdown because of power loss.
Everything in any power system can fail at any time. Complete redundancy, as in the 2N power distribution model, means that the chance of total failure is extremely low, as to be nearly nonexistent. With proper maintenance of the system there should never be a time when both the A and B side are unavailable, meaning there should always be power available for complete normal operations. Choosing a data center with 2N power means you will have one less thing to worry about and can rest assured that your servers and equipment will be available whenever needed.
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This guest article was written by Mark Price, CEO of Tranquil Hosting. Based in North Carolina, a managed hosting provider offering managed cloud and co-location services from premium data center facilities in both North Carolina and Dallas, TX.